Soccer and Golf Portraits

I was asked to take some pictures of a young man depicting the sports he loves and the guy the parents are so proud of. Every year they get pictures taken by the typical event shooters, and they tend to be pretty static pose, grin, shoot shots that end up looking very posed. We were going to try for more action, and more natural.

This was to be a back yard shoot. Luckily, this house is in the country, with lots of space. There was a large row of trees that we chose to be the back drop for the activities. I placed him probably close to 20ft from the background, so the trees would blur somewhat. I showed up when the sun had started to fall behind these trees, so there was no direct sun. I suppose there was some coming through the trees. I set the camera on manual, and let those spots blow out.

I always seem to forget to take a picture of the lighting setup, so I will have to describe it. I set the main light, a SB900 in a shoot through umbrella high to my left. It is rotated fairly far around on him, 10-20 deg. This was a last minute thing while I was traveling in Canada, and I didn’t have a second stand, so I used a second SB900 on a gorilla pod, on the grass, way around the right side, also about 10-20 deg off axis. I had an umbrella lying over this pointed somewhat up.

The lights stayed pretty constant to the subject. I moved around a little bit to get different camera angles, but the light was fairly consistent. We had a small stick in the grass where he was to stand most of the time.

Many of the soccer shots were timing shots. It took a few takes to get what we wanted, between me, the subject, and his mother. I didn’t want to do much in post, so we wanted to hit it right on the grass. For kicking the ball, I prefocused on the soccer ball. While the light was going down, my auto focus kept focusing on the trees behind him. Not what I was going for.

The golf ones didn’t involve timing as much. I quickly discovered that mid swing isn’t a very good picture, and I would have him pause at the top of his swing at the start, and at the end. I tried to get something a little bit different as well, hence the shot of him lining up a putt.